Last Night’s GAAs & Author of the Year!

Hope Accepting Award_9-12-13Last night was the Golden Apple Awards, the annual industry awards event sponsored by the New York City chapter of The Romance Writers of America. I was–and am–thrilled and honored to have been chosen by the membership as its 2013 Author of the Year. Below are the notes for my acceptance speech, which I managed to complete dry-eyed albeit verklempt.

A career of twenty years, thirteen as a published author, means there are many people to be thanked, so I may not be exactly brief  but I will be as succinct as these two pages permit.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my trio of fabulous agents:

To Louise Fury with whom I’ve been blessed to work since 2010. As some of you know, I first met Louise when she started coming to Lady Jane’s Salon® in our early days and at the time I had no idea she was even agenting. It took me a while but I finally cottoned on. Elizabeth Mahon and I took her out for “a” drink to celebrate a significant deal she’d made, one drink turned into many drinks, and then next thing I knew she was asking me about my books. I’ll never forget her saying, “I don’t know if I can sell it—but I’ll try.” By 1:00 AM I was back home emailing her the files.

Louise has done considerably better than “try.” She has since sold THREE series for me, including my hard cover debut, SUGAR, co-written with Jenna Jameson, which releases from Skyhorse Publishing this October 21st. And that’s not even counting the foreign and audio deals she’s made—all while fielding my many, MANY daily emails, on which I usually forget to change the subject header. Honestly, Louise, I can’t imagine being in this business without you.

To Lori Perkins who wears many hats—make that tiaras—not only as the founder and owner of the enduringly successful L. Perkins Agency but also as a writer and publisher. As you know, Lori launched Riverdale Avenue Books last December and she hasn’t stilled since. I don’t use the word “maverick” often or lightly but Lori is truly that. Lori doesn’t follow publishing trends, she forecasts them. She has brought so many publishing opportunities my way these past years, including but in no way limited to a place in her 50 Writers on 50 Shades of Grey anthology and for those and her friendship, I thank her.

To Jenny Bent, our Agent of the Year, who launched my career back in ’99 by selling my Regency-set historical to Berkley. A Rogue’s Pleasure was a first romance sale for both of us—and as they say you never forget you first. I was with Jenny through three agencies, and was so proud of her when she went out on her own and founded The Bent Agency, which has added a London office to its home base of Brooklyn.   

To the talented editors with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working over the past 13 years and counting: Cindy Hwang at Berkley, Brenda Chin at Harlequin, Helen Rosburg at Medallion Media Group, Angela James at Carina Press, Stacy Cantor Abrams at Entangled, and now Jenn McCartney at Skyhorse Publishing. I’ve done 25 books and each has been made inestimably better for your talented input.

Hope_Acceptance Speech_9-12-13To the uber talented former O Magazine senior editor, memoirist and now romance author, Suzan Colon for being my friend, supporter, and creative sounding board. Our lunches are not only a treat to which I look forward but a grounding point for me personally and professionally. I am so looking forward to you reading BEACH GLASS at the February Lady Jane’s Salon.

To RWA NYC for your enduring support, friendship, and encouragement. When I moved to New York in the winter of 2008, I knew ABSOLUTELY NO ONE. Attending that first Saturday chapter meeting was akin to grabbing hold of a lifeline. I met both my Lady Jane’s co-founder, Leanna Renee Hieber and past president, Elizabeth Mahon at a chapter outing to Coney Island. Others of you I’ve gotten to know through additional chapter events such as the winter holiday and spring brunches, the online loop, and of course your glorious and enduring support of Lady Jane’s Salon. To Maria Ferrer and Lise Horton and Sarah Tormey and Kwana Jackson…well, I don’t have time or breath to name each one of you but please know that your support, of me, my books, and m/our Lady Jane’s Salon these past five years means more than I can say.
GAA Trophy & Plaque
Last but in no way least, to my wonderful and always supportive partner, Raj Moorjani, who daily affirms that Happily Ever After isn’t only the stuff of romance novels—we can have it in Real Life, too.

This is an enormous honor. Thank you!

In Memoriam: Blake Snyder

Screenwriter Blake Snyder passed away suddenly on Tuesday, August 4th, and I’m struggling to put into words how it is I feel so sad, so personally touched by the loss of someone I knew so little.

Blake Snyder, Photo courtesy of
Blake Snyder. Photo courtesy of

But Blake was, is, that sort of being, a Light Bulb Being. Along with being super talented and successful, charismatic and funny, engaging and dare I say, wise, he had such a…light about him.

I met him at last year’s Romance Writers of America Conference in San Francisco. His mini workshop on adapting one’s romance novel into a screenplay unexpectedly and totally wowed me–and after sixteen years in this business, believe me, I am not easily wowed.

We corresponded occasionally by email. I was always amazed that someone who was such a…Name responded so promptly and so graciously. I think people, all people, just genuinely interested him.

I bought his book, Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need and was signed up for his two-day screenwriting workshop, which would have taken place next week here in New York City. When the email came through informing workshop registrants of his death, I was stunned. I still am.

What I also am is mindful, wholly mindful, of just how uncertain and yes, infinitely precious our lives are. The good, the bad, the ugly, and the so-so, it’s doesn’t matter, every moment counts. It’s life, our life, and I’m pledging to savor every single second of mine from here on.

Bon Voyage, Blake.


Kicky Come-Backs and Rousing Retorts

A few weeks back I attended my weekly French group, where I usually look forward to practicing my flagging French language skills with my fellow Francophones and Francophiles, my parlance (hopefully) smoothed out by a nice glass of wine.

A common way to commence a conversation with someone new is to ask, “Qu’est-ce que tu fais?” What do you do?

Only on this particular meet-up, what is normally the beginning of a pleasant exchange became anything but.

I was chatting with an attractive German-born woman who was patiently deciphering my halting French when a man sporting a smarmy smile and a jacket the searing shade of blue associated with hard boiled eggs at Easter, strolled up to us. “You are the two prettiest women here,” he announced in French, adjusting his coat cuffs.

My conversation mate and I bonded over a mutual rolling of eyes. “You are a charmer, I see,” she said in flawless French.

“Ah, oui,” he replied, apparently not cottoning on to the subtext sarcasm. “C’est mon metier.” It’s my profession.

A professional charmer, really?

The German wisely faded into the backdrop and Blue Blazer zoned in on me like a homing pidgeon. “Qu’est-ce tu fais?” he finally got around to asking after rolling out a long laundry list of his own sterling attributes–the book on German philosophy he’d recently read, his impressive (to him) knowledge of the Art World, his generally high-minded thoughts.

I replied in French that I’m a writer, meaning to leave it at that. I’m enormously proud of the books I write, of the genre I represent, but generally speaking I don’t like talking shop on my nights off.

A salvo of Spanish Inquisition style questions winnowed my replies from the general to the specific: “books” to “novels” to “commercial fiction novels” to “historical and contemporary commercial fiction novels” to finally, “historical and contemporary romance fiction novels.” And that’s when the fun started.

Our exchange went something like this:

BB: “You write that stuff just for money, huh?”

Hope: “Well, I write what I love, what many readers enjoy reading, and yes, I do get paid.”

BB: “Ever try writing a real book?”

Hope: “I do write real books, books that are well-researched, well-crafted, and well-received. You might want to reference my previous remark about getting paid.”

BB: “I wrote a short story once. It’s really literary. What’s your email address? I’ll send it to you. I think reading it might really help you.”

Hope: Stunned silence, on the outside at least. My Inner Voice was far from silent. Uh-huh. Horrendous fashion sense and a narcissist. Now that’s hot–not!

Holding onto my temper–and stemware short of snapping the glass–I asked him if he’d ever read a romance novel. After considerable hemming and hawwing, he claimed to have read part of a romance novel Back in The Day, likely when he was a pimply-faced sixteen year-old trolling for “the good parts.” But apparently he felt so sullied by its silliness that he threw it away. In the garbage. 

“I can’t read that stuff,” he said, with an emphatic shake of head.

I told him he had no right to make denigrating comments about a genre of fiction, or indeed about any topic, on which he was obviously completely uninformed.

“Oh, c’mon,” he said, flicking a stubby-fingered hand inches from my face. “I know that stuff. I know what that stuff is all about.”

There it was, that word again. Stuff. For a would-be writer, he really ought to look into expanding his vocabulary.

And then he ratcheted it up one level further and added another word. Garbage.

And something in me snapped and thankfully it wasn’t the wine glass I was clenching. I drew back my shoulders and hoisted my chin exactly as my fictional heroines have done countless times when family or personal honor or both were at stake.

“You, sir, are stunningly ignorant and boorishly rude, and until you read an actual book–a whole one–I don’t have the time or patience to educate you.”

The packed bar floor parted like the Red Sea. Mr. Blue Blazer and I stared each other down like two bulls, locking eyes if not horns. And finally, flush-faced and stammering, he dropped his gaze and turned away. First.

And you know, ladies and gents, it felt really, really good.

Energy Vampires, they don’t just come out at night. You can encounter them at anytime, anywhere. They set out to suck our energy and drain us of our belief in ourselves. At their worst, they can cause us to question our talent, our very sense of worth. Ordinarily I give energy vampires like Blue Blazer a broad berth. But there are times, and IMHO this was one of them, when you have to stand up straight and tall and not let the bullies get away with it, no matter how sharp their fangs or…blinding their attire.

Wouldn’t you know it, the very next day I was flipping through the November issue of “The Romance Writers Report,” the monthly membership magazine of Romance Writers of America when I came across an article on just this very topic. In “Snappy Comebacks,” fantasy romance author Eilis Flynn poses the question: what do you say when someone takes a dig at what you write?”

Quoted in the article is my fellow Harlequin Blaze author, Julie Leto, who knows a thing or two about vampires, fictional and real. “The key to the snappy comeback,” says Julie, “is to not censor yourself. Actually say what you’re thinking.”

Wise words from a wise woman. And I for one am taking that advice to heart–and on the road.

“Stunningly ignorant” and “boorishly rude.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Who knew serving up raw honesty, sushi-quality raw honesty, could feel so downright good?

Savor the Simplicity,


More Photos from the RWA Conference in San Francisco

Hi All,

I’m back from hiking Ireland–okay, not exactly the whole country but The Burren and Connemara. Despite an unfortunate lack of gills or fins–can we say “record rainfall”–I managed to stay afloat without floating away. But more on that later this week when I post my vacation pics.

Yummy news: I got back to find a “wee giftie” waiting in my email mailbox–more photos from the RWA Conference in San Francisco courtesy of fellow Washington Romance Writers (WRW) member, Yvonne Yirka. Thanks Yvonne!

Unfortunately being the Shutterbug means not being in so many pictures, at least not your own. The Fab Threesome, taken on a “real live” San Francisco streetcar which we actually rode is (from left to right), Terri Ridgell, me, and former WRW prez, Deborah Barnhart.

Girlfriend time, take time to savor.


Calling All Shoe-a-Holics: Better a glass slipper than a glass ceiling

Still waiting on all those RWA photos to rush in geyser style but in the interim Alert Blog Watcher and historical romance author, Diane Gaston sent me this link to author Esri Rose’s shoe review.

I met Esri briefly as she worked her way through the throng at RWA’s Saturday night Awards Ceremony dessert reception. Her mission: to snap as many photos of authors’ shoes as she possibly could. I, or at least my feet, are in the White Out Section, third photo down (and just above the really cool Italian glass beaded babies).

Oh, and btw, she’s running a poll so you can vote!

Keeping up with the Cinderella theme, Manhattan is a place where magical moments are happenstance, where expecting the unexpected quickly becomes a way of life. Last night I was savoring a lobster salad at A.O.C. Bistro in the West Village when who walks in but actor Mary-Kate Olsen. Or was it Ashley? Or does it even matter?

What I really want to know is where I can get a pair of those glass slippers.


Puttin’ on the Ritz

Okay, so I sent out a Nag-O-Gram to all my nearest and dearest conference buddies and slowly but surely (and for sure, slowly) photos from last week’s Romance Writers of America Conference in San Francisco are beginning to t-r-i-c-k-l-e in.
The above photo was taken at a pre-Awards cocktail party on Saturday night. From left to right are authors Sophia Nash, Elaine Fox, Kathryn Caskie, and some brunette chic in pewter who apparently didn’t get the memo on the basic black cocktail attire.
Oh, yeah, right, she’s me. 😉
I’ll be posting pics daily, at least that’s my plan, so please don’t be a stranger.

July Contest Winners

Okay, I am if not exactly fully rested up from the RWA Conference in San Francisco, then certainly back on the J.O.B. And one of the very best parts of this particular J.O.B. is announcing contest winners–and giving away books!

Jane C of New York, NY is the Grand Prize Winner of my previous month’s contest. Like the two runners up, Jane knew that “caudle,” a mulled wine with bits of brown bread, sugar, eggs and spices, is the drink Brianna first serves the captured Ewan in Bound to Please. Jane’s prize is a signed copy of The Haunting, my time travel Harlequin Blaze romance set in Fredericksburg, VA, and a signed copy of Monica McCarty’s Highlander Untamed, the first in Monica’s blockbuster trilogy about the MacLeods of Skye. Bound to Please also features the MacLeods albeit more than a century earlier.

Robyn L of Portage, PA and Andrea A of Bath, NY are my two additional winners. Robyn and Andrea will each receive a signed copy of Vanquished, the kick-off to my “Men of Roxbury House” historical trilogy along with a signed cover flat for Bound to Please.

Per my previous post, I’m still waiting on all those fab RWA Conference glam shots, so if you’re one of my shutterbug buddies, don’t be shy. Send ’em on. (Memo to self: next time remember to take digital camera. Also, remember to learn how to use said digital camera). 😉


Back from San Francisco

Hi Everyone,

I’m jet-lagged but grinning big time after wrapping up yet another fabulous Romance Writers of America Conference. This year’s setting was San Francisco, one of my favorite US cities, second only to–you guessed it–New York. As always the conference was a fabulous forum for mixing business with yes, pure fun.

Determined to log in a little sightseeing, I got into San Francisco on Tuesday and hooked up with my posse of conference buds, including the lovely and prolific Kathryn Caskie, for a fortifying seafood dinner at Scoma’s in Fisherman’s Wharf. Set back from the main drag on Pier 47, Scoma’s bills itself as offering San Francisco’s freshest seafood. The cracked Dungeoness Crab was to die for as was the Lobster Thermidor and Lobster Newburg. I know because I had them all!

The conference officially kicked off on Wednesday night with the annual charity literacy autographing. Hundreds of romance authors from Nora Roberts to Julia Quinn to yes, Yours Truly packed the SF Marriott’s grand ballroom to sign our latest releases and chat with readers and the press.

The Harlequin Party on Friday was held at the ever elegant Four Seasons Hotel. In between fortifying forays to the food stations for an array of Asian dumplings, succulent cheeses, and completely calorie-free desserts (yeah, right)–hey, a girl’s gotta keep up her strength–I shook my booty and ground my groove thing to the 80’s tunes rocking the house.

On Saturday romantic suspense author, Terri Ridgell and I gave our workshop on Tracking Trends, Fording the Future. To the strappy souls who turned out for us despite the 4:30-5:30 time slot, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

All that talking turned out to be thirsty work. After whetting my whistle with some lovely champagne at an awards pre-party, it was time to settle down to the Awards Ceremony emceed this year by best-selling author, Suzanne Brockman. In addition to doing a bang-up job keeping we attendees rolling in the aisles with laughter–and the program rolling along right on schedule–Suzanne is well, a pretty cool chick. You’ve got to hand it to a woman who accessorizes a floor-length ballgown with…cowboy boots.

Sunday morning was time to pack in the razzle dazzle and come back to home and yes, “reality.” Now that I’m back, my first official action item (okay, second) is to announce my July contest winners, so please check back tomorrow (Tuesday) for details on the latest three lucky ladies (or gentlemen, as the case may be). The grand prize includes a title from bestseller Monica McCarty’s Highlander series.

Finally, to all my shutterbug buddies who also attended the conference–and yes,I know not only who you are but where to find you–this stands as my official shout out. All those group photos you made me mug for, and which I valiantly worked not to ruin by blinking, send ’em on. I’ll be posting the images as they trickle–make that rush–in. In the meantime…

Happy Monday,


Red Shoes Diary…

Okay, so last night I had one of those quintessential Manhattan evenings that makes me proud to be a newly minted New Yorker tricked out in four inch red platform heels. Recently I reconnected with romance writer extraordinaire, Liz Maverick. Liz and I met “back in the day” at a Celebrate Romance Conference but beyond quick catch-ups at a conference here and there, we kind of lost touch. Like me, Liz is a recent transplant to the city, in her case from the West Coast, and a Saturday night out seemed as good a time as any to compare notes on our Single Girl in the Big City experiences so far.

Start point: Blue Ribbon Sushi in Soho where I met Liz and her buddy, Bonnie, for an early (for New York) dinner. After pounding down a truly amazing amount of excellent sushi, we headed Uptown to Terminal 5 where not one but three great bands were playing. The headliner, She & Him, was seriously amazing. The lead vocalist, Zooey Deschanel, who also happens to be a song writer and pianist, is so over-the-top talented it’s well…pretty insane.

This week my Manhattan adventuring will be put on the back burner as I head to San Francisco for the Romance Writers of America national conference. The conference kicks off on Wednesday night with a charity autographing to benefit literacy programs in the area. I’ll be signing copies of Bound to Please as well as Enslaved and later in the week giving a workshop on “Tracking Trends” in romance fiction with my friend, Terri Ridgell. In between taking care of “bizness,” there’s the Harlequin party at the fabulous Four Seasons Hotel and of course the conference finale, an awards ceremony and desert reception on Saturday night. Once I’m back in the city to catch my breath, I’ll be dishing on all of it–I promise!

In the meantime, have a great week…


Random Reports from City Girl on the Street

Okay, it’s officially spring in New York, which is to say gray, windy, and cold
–still. Despite the scrumptious array of spring clothes on tantalizing display in the storefronts of West Village boutiques and the designer chains on Fifth–think crayon colors, bold geometric patterns, and belted waists–like most of my fellow Manhattanites, I’m still tooling around in turtlenecks and wool.

Still, it’s spring, the pollen is in full bloom, and all in all people including Yours Truly are walking the streets with a uh…spring in their step. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

Tomorrow, Saturday, I’m the guest speaker at the Romance Writers of America/NYC chapter brunch at PJ Clarke’s. I’m still working out my presentation, but it’s basically a not so shameless take-off on Donald Trump’s THE ART OF THE DEAL. In my case, I’ll be speaking on the ART OF THE RE-DO, both in writing and yes, in so-called “real” life.

PJ Clarke’s is on the waterfront, so here’s hoping its warm-er. Afterward I’m on tap to meet a friend and hit a couple of the Chelsea art galleries having receptions. I doubt I’ll buy any art but hey, someone has to help out with all that free wine. 😉

Like my Strokes of Midnight heroine, Becky Stone, I check my online horoscope and yes, tarot readings just about every day. It’s a big world out there, make that a big Universe, so I like to cover all my bases. I’m happy to report the Hanged Man, Hermit, and Death card (yikes) are no longer showing up in my Love & Relationship sector!

See, it really must be spring…

Happy Weekend,